The Importance of Leisure

After months of being in a Parks and Recreation, I believe that I now have a pretty decent grasp on the concept of leisure and all it has to offer. While in that class, I had construct a “time diary” in order to document how I spent my time. After documenting in my diary and reviewing what I did throughout the week, I found that I spend a enormous portion of my time in leisure. At first glance I thought that the amount of time I spent in leisure was bad, then after scrutinizing and recalling the benefits of leisure it alleviated some of the guilt I had.

Before I get to deep into the subject, leisure is activity chosen in relative freedom for its qualities of satisfaction. Leisure is a multi-dimensional, contextual, and individual concept. What counts as leisure differs from person to person.


What does it mean to have leisure?

  • To be free from endless rounds of labor
  • To pursue what you want
  • To spend your time in voluntary, pleasurable ways
  • To have freedom to explore and accept your place in the world

So what are the benefits of leisure according to Cordes and Ibriham (2003)?

  • Brings balance to one’s life
  • Relaxation
  • Self-improvement
  • Cultural/family stability and interaction
  • Escape, novelty, complexity, adventure, excitement, and fantasy
  • Reduce stress

In order to have a work-life balance, one must partake in leisure activities while they are not working. Therefor many people do recreational activities in opposition to work. Recreation is a narrower component of leisure. These activities provide pleasure/satisfaction and restores us mentally/physically.

In a study done by Iwasaki, Zuzanek, and Mannell their findings conveyed that certain characteristics of leisure, over and above its physically active nature, may serve to facilitate coping. The study was conducted by analyzing data from the 1994 National Population Health Survey and then measuring three different components (health, stress, and physically active leisure of each individual).

” Coleman found that the belief that leisure behavior is freely chosen and under personal control acted as a buffer against stress in maintaining good health. Iso-Ahola and Park found that those participants who believed that they had developed friendships and social support through leisure pursuits seemed to be less susceptible to physical illness due to stress. More recently, Iwasaki and Mannell found evidence that the choices people make for the use of their leisure may help them develop feelings of empowerment, contribute to palliative coping and enhance their moods, and that these factors help them cope with stress.”


Other benefits of leisure are enhanced immune systems, improved memory, improved self esteem, and better quality of sleep. For more, click here.

In a Minnesota study 2,747 people with an average age of 25 participated in a treadmill test two decades ago, and once again twenty years later. Cognitive tests were taken 25 years after the beginning of the study to measure: verbal memory, psycho-motor speed (the relationship between thinking skills and physical movement), and executive function. The more fit participants were as young adults then the better they did on the test. Which conveys that physically leisure activities can lead to better cognitive performance. Many other studies have been published positively linking physical activity to cognition.


Bottom Line: Leisure has a vast amount of benefits. Make sure you take advantage of them!


3 thoughts on “The Importance of Leisure

  1. Jensen T Sneeringer

    I found an interesting article about how our perspective of time influences how we see leisure time and how we spend our free time. It discusses an interesting topic and how, based on how you view time, whether you are more susceptible to giving up short run free time for a long run benefit or if you are more likely to act in a current leisurely activity in the moment.

  2. Lauren Ann Heess

    I definitely agree that leisure is an important aspect of life. When people are constantly busy from everyday life whether it be work or school, the stress they are going through is not good for a person’s health. Leisure activities such as traveling, exercising, or whatever the person enjoys doing let’s them take a break from the stress. This time allows for relaxation, which can lead to health benefits, self-improvement and much more. Personally, I feel much healthier and happier when I am doing an activity such as hiking compared to when I am running from class to class.

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